The Veep funnywoman’s co-star, Tony Hale, popped up during the best part of her opening monologue — channeling fawning “bag man” Gary as her cue-card handler. Before that, she also had a chance to reunite with Seinfeld co-creator Larry David, who played Bernie Sanders in the Democratic Debate Cold Open, while Louis-Dreyfus, in a deliciously meta turn, revived her classic ’90s sitcom character (and New York primary voter) Elaine Benes (above). Good stuff!
Speaking of which, Louis-Dreyfus’ comedic brilliance also upgraded an ad for Heroin AM — in which she played a chipperly addicted school bus driver — and somehow squeezed laughs out of a one-joke “Cinema Classics” bit.
Below, my picks for the best and worst sketches from an above-average episode…
BEST: MERCEDES BENZ AA CLASS | I enjoyed the Heroin A.M. digital short, but Louis-Dreyfus’ ad for a Mercedes-Benz that runs on 9.648 Duracell AA batteries gets the edge for the actress’ spot-on parody of celebrity auto endorsements — not to mention the “Ribbon-release auto-dump feature.”
BEST: CHARLES BARKLEY AND SHAQUILLE O’NEAL ON WEEKEND UPDATE | The best “Weekend Update” all season found Jay Pharoah bringing to life the most unspeakably mean but tears-streamingly funny impersonation of the NBA star. That whole bit about Shaq’s endorsement for Icy Hot pain patches – “Mmm… it’s delicious! I put it on Texas toast: Toast is warm and cool at the same time!” — deserves a place on the show’s 50th Anniversary special.
BEST: THE ONE-DIMENSIONAL FEMALE CHARACTER FROM A MALE-DRIVEN COMEDY | Given Louis-Dreyfus’ excellent showing, I feel a little bad only including her in one of the three best sketches this week, but Cecily Strong’s finally perfect channeling of this recurring character — now the star of Bagging Heather – was too hilarious to ignore. How Strong managed not to break character and howl during that bit about turning off and having everything go black when her character exited her male lead’s story arc was viciously funny. But this followup — “At one point, I sneeze into a Kleenex full of semen… but nobody tells me” — was as perversely accurate as it was hilarious.
HONORABLE MENTION: THE POOL BOY | The writing could’ve been a tad sharper in this digital short starring Louis-Dreyfus as a bored housewife attempting to break off her affair with a blasé poolboy (Pete Davidson). But the actress’ obscenely funny parting shot upon spotting her new lawn-care guy (a scorching hot Nick Jonas) — “I’m gonna f–k that kid!” — made me laugh longer and harder than anything else from this week’s telecast (and at least a couple months’ worth of SNL, to boot).
WORST: HUGE JEWELRY | Our intrepid host and Kate McKinnon played Long Island store owners using their children and extended family to model their tacky accessories. I may have chuckled at the shoulder brace Aidy Bryant used to support her overzied earrings, but aside from that, the sketch was a laugh free blemish on Louis-Dreyfus’ excellent batting average.
WORST: “WHO WORKS HERE?” | I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again right now: SNL is far too reliant on the “faux game show” concept, and this bit — in which Louis-Dreyfus quizzed customers at a CVS about whether or not random passers-by worked in the drug store — viciously underscored that point with a fresh, red Sharpie.